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Old 10-08-2012, 03:00 PM   #1
NickC
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Recording advice.

When recording, should I play differently to how I play live or in the practice room?

I don't mean what I play, but how I play.

My band is heavy, loud and fast so I use a lot of energy when I play.

In the practice room we usually jam for around 2 hours, so I pace myself. I play lighter most of the time so I don't get too tired.

When we gig, I just go for it and hit as hard as I can.

I personally think it sounds better when I hit harder.

My concern is whilst recording, I may have to do lots of takes and might get tired, and if I'm knackered, I probably wont be able to play as well.

So, my question is, when recording, will there be a difference in the end recording sound if I hit lighter than harder?
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Old 10-08-2012, 05:38 PM   #2
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Yes. Very much so. In general, when it comes to heavy music, you want to be clobbaring the drums, especially when playing backbeats. This brings out the attack of the drum and results in a much more "percussive" feel. This is less of a big deal with cymbals and in fact a lot of players hit their cymbals TOO hard, but the drums themselves - yes.
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Old 10-08-2012, 09:12 PM   #3
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Going along with what Det says, my philsophy to playing in general is "lay into your drums, lay off your cymbals" and everything turns out great and balanced and it sounds good.
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Old 10-09-2012, 01:15 AM   #4
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I agree with what everyone's said here. Hit the drums hard and be gentle with your cymbals. (if only I could get my bandmates who needlessly clobber my cymbals to do that) Also, drums tend to sound best when you hit in the center of the head because you're exciting the fundamental, rather than the overtones which vibrate away from the center.

As for the playing endurance thing, I've found that if you play with better technique (flick from the wrist/fingers as opposed to the arm), you can play a lot longer without getting tired because you're expending less energy. If you get the proper wrist motion you can hit almost as hard with far less effort. Watch the guys that play blast beats all day and you'll see what I mean.
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Old 10-09-2012, 09:25 AM   #5
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Why is the word metronome not in this thread yet!?

Your practicing and playing to a click right? Cause that's by far the most important aspect going into recording.

Making sure you have the music down perfectly, know it inside and out. To the click.

"I may have to do lots of takes and might get tired, and if I'm knackered, I probably wont be able to play as well."

If that's the case. You have no business being in a recording studio. Both mentally and physically.
You will be playing drums ALL DAY LONG when you go into a recording situation. If you can't handle that, then make sure you make that clear to the band immediately.
There is no point in wasting everyone's time if you don't have the endurance to play at your top level for a few hours.

You are ready to record when you can play down your tunes with confidence and lacking any errors.
A good gauge is if you can play a tune down 3 times in a row without any mistakes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ares View Post
Also, drums tend to sound best when you hit in the center of the head because you're exciting the fundamental, rather than the overtones which vibrate away from the center.
Drums actually sound better hit slightly off center, most the time the angle of the toms does this for us.
Cymbals open up when struck with a glancing downward blow.



"When we gig, I just go for it and hit as hard as I can."

That's a pretty concerning statement. Odds are that if you are hitting as hard as you can, you aren't using proper technique and most likely going to severely injure yourself if you continue.

You also are probably getting shit for drum sound. Drums choke when hit too hard.

A 2 hour rehearsal is nothing, you shouldn't even be concerned about needing to "pace yourself" for that short of a time span.

You should be able to play for hours on end, regardless of the genre of music.
If you can't or find that you are fatiguing quickly, then you are definitely muscling the drums WAY too much.

This directly means you are not playing loose and relaxed. RSI's are no joke and should be taken extremely seriously.
I have personally dealt with numerous players who have had severe repetitive stress injuries from playing too hard or too tense. Often requiring painful and expensive surgery, days or months of not being able to use a given hand. And worst of all, not being able to play music for extended periods of time. Get your technique together!

Drums WILL hurt you. Very badly. If you are not careful. It's easy to get caught up in the "grab a stick and swing away!" mentality, and it more then often leads to very very bad things.

With good drums, good heads and good tuning you really don't need to hit the drums that hard to create a LOT of sound. Modern drums are naturally a very loud instrument. So are cymbals.

You never want to be hitting "as hard as you can". It's just stupid and unnecessary. We are not neanderthals beating on a log to be heard in camp 2 miles away.

And listen too, don't be afraid to tell your guitarist to turn the fuck down. They really don't need a 100 watt half stack. Let alone 3 of them with stacks (or however many you have).
It truly is way over kill for almost all playing situations, and most definitely for the practice room.
Drums flat out can not compete with large amplifiers. You'll never win the loudness war, your drum sound will be shit, you'll trash heads, your wrists, etc...
You can be heavy as shit without being loud.

There's a nice happy medium instruments sound best at. Find it in your band.


I would suggest you find a local private teacher. Additionally head over to VicFirth.com and check out Dom's videos on technique. Start with the "Free Stroke" video. Dom's videos are free. Make use of his excellent teaching skills.


For recording you want to smack the drums, but if you hit drums too hard they will choke. There is a sweet spot for all drums that changes from drum to drum, tuning, head selection and personal taste.


Recording is all about the preparation. From what heads you are going to use, making sure the drums are tuned up and ready to go. No rattling hardware, pedals don't squeak, etc
To making sure you are prepared mentally and physically. You know all the material inside and out. You are confident in what you are playing. You can comfortably play down your tunes for extended periods of time.
You got all your cool licks and phrases worked out perfectly. Got your charts and notes ready. Etc

You can play everything down to a click too right?
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:15 PM   #6
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OK, thanks for your help guys.
I've now had some conflicting advice from you all though.
The Ice Cream Man is saying "drums choke when hit too hard" and the rest of you are saying they sound best when hit hardest.

Just to clarify, I'm sure my technique isn't that great. I'd love to find a drum teacher but I have no money or time for that.
I don't play to a click, although do practice at home on my practice pad to a click.

When we record, we won't be using a click and we will all be recording together at the same time, hence the likely need for a lot of takes.

Sorry I get tired after a 2 hour jam, perhaps taking the advice of laying off the cymbals a bit will help there.
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:38 PM   #7
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Play naturally and open, I was in a metal group and had no problems in the studio with tone, if your toms are tuned well with little or no dampening, they will ring and sing.... And we have technology for close micing now.... And chances are, with going in and paying for studio time with metal, if all of you aren't very fluent in recording, your engineer is just going to compress/gate you and digitize it beyond belief, and make it sound good enough to get you out the door..... Remember, you're paying this guy... You're his boss... Spend some time tuning your drums to the room when you get there, and ask the tech to help... He can help you get a better recording sound out of your drums, and make his own job easier.....

Cymbal crushing... If you really do tire out from hitting everything so hard.... Look into new gear, when I started playing metal I switched to almost all medium weight cymbals... So I had to barely hit them to get them to open up.... Less hand fatigue and muscle stretching.... Lots of metal drummers are doing this.... It looks like they're bashing away on stage and in studio, but it's mostly showmanship, you can't have a metal drummer look like he's playing soft adult jazz alternative, even though they have been sharing more and more cymbals as the years go by.....

Drumagog.... Great tool... I use it lots... Don't let the engineer kill your drums with samples though.... Maybe a little kick enhancement, but leave it at that....

And yes, metronome.... Download a free one on your phone, plug it into your p.a. And practice to it.... Yeah, you will all be recording at once, but after all of you get a decent take you will start layering guitars or maybe even going back on the drums to redo a section or two, if you're not playing with a click, then the tracks may never truly line up... Costing time/money....

And please ask the engineer if you can come get it mixed again for free or cheap if you're not happy with the first mix, by the end of the day, everybody is excited, and hearing the final product sounds good, but the excitement, ear fatigue and body fatigue will make you think a mix is better than what it truly is
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickC View Post
I've now had some conflicting advice from you all though.
The Ice Cream Man is saying "drums choke when hit too hard" and the rest of you are saying they sound best when hit hardest.
There's not a professional drummer out there in the world who would tell you drums sound best when hit hardest.
Like I said, there is a happy sweet spot for every drum that changes based on the playing, tuning, sticks, etc

Youtube Bob Gatzen's videos on drum tuning and recording. Not once does he ever say you should hit a drum as hard as possible. And also gives out some really wonderful advice on getting drum sounds.
Youtube Dave Weckl as well for his tuning and playing videos.

While you may not be able to afford actual private lessons, you have the time and the internet - there's more free lessons then you could go through.
Like I said, go start with Dom's "Wisdom Woodshed" videos on VicFirth.com



Quote:
Originally Posted by NickC View Post
When we record, we won't be using a click and we will all be recording together at the same time, hence the likely need for a lot of takes.
Then why bother? That's just a train wreck waiting to happen. Save your money and do it right.

If you just want a recording of the band playing together, you can do that WAY cheaper by just buying the gear yourselves.

Not recording, particularly metal, to a click is like saying you are going to go take your Pinto down to race at the Indy500.

It makes absolutely no sense.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:09 PM   #9
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You get a different vibe in the sound when it's all done together (plus some overdubs) rather than all done separately.
And we certainly wont save money buy buying all the gear we need as to get your band recorded these days costs very little.

I've got the advice I wanted which was about how hard to hit what whilst recording.
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:22 PM   #10
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I said play into your drums, not smash them with a baseball bat.

Besides, if you're playing *that* hard, then your overall technique suffers pretty badly.
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie's Ice Cream View Post
There's not a professional drummer out there in the world who would tell you drums sound best when hit hardest.
Like I said, there is a happy sweet spot for every drum that changes based on the playing, tuning, sticks, etc
Sorry Josiah, but that is not true. There are many professional drummers who hit extremely hard for that very reason - John Bonham, Dave Grohl, Stewart Copeland and Danny Carey all hit extremely hard, as does Kenny Aronoff, whose clinics pretty much specialize on how to hit hard without hurting yourself. Carey's rationale for hitting hard is that it causes the entire shell to vibrate, and he is well regarded for having incredible tones.

Now, you do bring up a good point which is there is definitely a difference between hitting "hard" and hitting "as hard as you can." In the latter case, you're more likely than not going to end up with very uneven dynamics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kwq4ceIBbeo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojastIWl9sA&feature=related

Last edited by Det_Nosnip; 10-10-2012 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:47 PM   #12
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Hitting any drum as hard as you can sounds horrible. The pitch raises dramatically and becomes choked instantly.

Hard hitting sounds great but there is always a point of diminishing returns
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:26 PM   #13
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John Bonham played hard but that was because his stroke was powerful.....it was all in his wrists. I tend to move my arm more than him with my backbeat.
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Old 10-11-2012, 09:51 AM   #14
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John Bonham was also a raging drunk. Should we all get smashed before we play too?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Det_Nosnip View Post
Now, you do bring up a good point which is there is definitely a difference between hitting "hard" and hitting "as hard as you can."
...and I would have figured that the more experienced players here would have been smart enough to figure out this kid has very little experience and telling him to hit hard is sending him down a dangerous path. This isn't a philosophical discussion on the physics of playing drums. It's advice for a beginner player!

He doesn't know how to hit hard properly. That only comes from years of training and technique instruction.

Comparing career players who have 40 years under their belt, to advice you are giving to a very obviously inexperienced player is insane.

Telling this guy to play like Danny Carey or Dave Grohl is irresponsible and and foolish. That kind of advice is a death sentence for his hands.

Ted if you tried to play like DC, you'd blow your self apart. Your talking about a 6'4" body builder who is athletic at the NBA level and studied for years under Vic Firth himself. Not to mention probably logs as much time playing on his kit as you do at work.
It's a WORLD of difference. If you live in that world, then playing like that is probably great!
If you don't live that life, then you won't have nearly the conditioning necessary to play at that level.

If you don't live in that world, comparing to it is asinine.

Drums are physical and require the conditioning necessary to play at those levels. This guy is already stating he is worn out after only 2 hours. That's a BIG red flag right there.

For a player in his position, the advice is absolutely do NOT hit hard until you have your technique straightened out and down pat.

Yes, many many players, including myself hit incredibly hard*. But we also have years of dedicated training that makes it safe. That's not an option for the OP.

Making it a mute point for this particular player, who has clearly stated he can not afford even basic private instruction.

The best advice for him is to lay off until he can get a good instructor to assess his technique and coach him further in the proper ways to play heavy without causing injury.



*By the way this is a major difference between training at the high end level and people who are observing.
Hitting "hard" is a misnomer. You can have incredible impact power while using very little actual force (whipping the stick).
In addition to being trained to control arm sweep independent of velocity.
Most players have little idea what they are seeing is an illusion compared to what they are hearing.
Point in case you can watch videos of Danny, Dave and me playing with double arm over head swings - most of that is purely visual and has nothing to do with the actual force put into the stick. If everyone were truly hitting as hard as it looks visually, you would see cymbals and sticks exploding constantly...

But it's actually pretty rare to see Danny break a stick.

Last edited by Vinnie's Ice Cream; 10-11-2012 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:46 PM   #15
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This has got me thinking, might be worth starting a new thread about it, but I'll continue the theme in here.

What do you play the drums for? What's your satisfaction?
You see, for me, I do get satisfaction out of improving and realising I can do things which I couldn't a couple of months ago.
But it's nothing compared to the satisfaction I get out of having something to beat the cack out of after a rubbish long day at work.

I get so much pleasure out of hitting my drums hard, rocking out whilst playing and basically exhausting myself.

That's what I play drums for.

When it comes to recording, I'm taking all your advice and I'm confident I'll play my parts very well, as many times as I need to.
Obviously I wont be banging my head and all that whilst I record.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:20 PM   #16
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Interesting question, I'm looking forward to the responses.

For me, playing music is all about playing live. The rush I get from feeling the crowd around the stage connect with what me and the band is doing is the primary reason I play.

Everything else is secondary, I love to jam, I love to better myself and learn new techniques or 'break through' barriers in my playing, and I like it when the songs we're playing actually mean something. But in the end, I'm just as happy playing an acoustic set on the cajon, a grungy punk duo, or with my folk-rock band whose songs actually have 'purpose.' As long as there's people there that are into it, I'm good.

This is why I will never be a master drummer. I'm content being able to groove along with most anybody, I'm not flashy when I play, I just hold it down. It doesn't mean I don't give it my all, or neglect practicing, but I live for the stage.
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:20 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Obviously I wont be banging my head and all that whilst I record.
Why not?

I'd recommend experimenting with this sort of thing because the vibe, passion and feel you put into your playing whilst tracking can come across in the recording.


Going back to Vinnie's Ice Cream's mention of preparation, maybe you could try recording yourself playing the songs (with and without the band) before you go into the studio - check all the parts work well within the song etc. Just record a performance on a phone/camcorder/mp3r recorder or something. Doesn't have to be stellar....just enough to hear yourself back.
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Old 10-13-2012, 04:35 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Vinnie's Ice Cream View Post
John Bonham was also a raging drunk. Should we all get smashed before we play too?
It seemed to work for him.

That's like saying "Vinnie Colaiuta was a coke head. Should we all do coke before we play?"

Quote:
...and I would have figured that the more experienced players here would have been smart enough to figure out this kid has very little experience and telling him to hit hard is sending him down a dangerous path. This isn't a philosophical discussion on the physics of playing drums. It's advice for a beginner player!

He doesn't know how to hit hard properly. That only comes from years of training and technique instruction.
Fair enough.
Quote:
Comparing career players who have 40 years under their belt, to advice you are giving to a very obviously inexperienced player is insane.

Telling this guy to play like Danny Carey or Dave Grohl is irresponsible and and foolish. That kind of advice is a death sentence for his hands.

Ted if you tried to play like DC, you'd blow your self apart. Your talking about a 6'4" body builder who is athletic at the NBA level and studied for years under Vic Firth himself. Not to mention probably logs as much time playing on his kit as you do at work.
It's a WORLD of difference. If you live in that world, then playing like that is probably great!
If you don't live that life, then you won't have nearly the conditioning necessary to play at that level.

If you don't live in that world, comparing to it is asinine.
I don't necessarily agree with that. First of all, I'm about Danny's size and he hasn't played pro ball in a LONG time, so that's a moot point. Secondly, anyone with a decent moeller technique can get big, powerful strokes without hurting themselves, and it is worth their while to do so when playing rock music. Should we necessarily try to hit as hard as Kenny or Danny? Probably not, for the reasons you listed - but within our physical limits, you do want to play as hard as you can manage while still maintaining proper technique and control. It's a matter of degree and relativity.

Quote:
Drums are physical and require the conditioning necessary to play at those levels. This guy is already stating he is worn out after only 2 hours. That's a BIG red flag right there.
Very true.
Quote:
For a player in his position, the advice is absolutely do NOT hit hard until you have your technique straightened out and down pat.
Ok, but that's a very different qualification from "don't hit hard because it doesn't sound good."
Quote:
Yes, many many players, including myself hit incredibly hard*. But we also have years of dedicated training that makes it safe. That's not an option for the OP.
I was going to say "don't YOU hit hard, Josiah??"
Quote:
Making it a mute point for this particular player, who has clearly stated he can not afford even basic private instruction.

The best advice for him is to lay off until he can get a good instructor to assess his technique and coach him further in the proper ways to play heavy without causing injury.
I agree...but as to the original question (sound), hitting harder WILL most likely yield a better recording if it is clean and even. Maybe that should be used as motivation to develop proper technique?

Quote:
*By the way this is a major difference between training at the high end level and people who are observing.
Hitting "hard" is a misnomer. You can have incredible impact power while using very little actual force (whipping the stick).
In addition to being trained to control arm sweep independent of velocity.
Most players have little idea what they are seeing is an illusion compared to what they are hearing.
Point in case you can watch videos of Danny, Dave and me playing with double arm over head swings - most of that is purely visual and has nothing to do with the actual force put into the stick. If everyone were truly hitting as hard as it looks visually, you would see cymbals and sticks exploding constantly...

But it's actually pretty rare to see Danny break a stick.
Oh, it happens. He also has a nasty habit of destroying snare drums, apparently.
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Old 10-13-2012, 08:54 AM   #19
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Will all those who have tracked drums in a rock setting (or any musical setting) in a professional studio in the last year say I?

How bout last 5 years?

Just curious about the experience levels of those giving out "advice" on recording here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickC View Post
You see, for me, I do get satisfaction out of improving and realising I can do things which I couldn't a couple of months ago.
That's a great reason to play an instrument!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickC View Post
But it's nothing compared to the satisfaction I get out of having something to beat the cack out of after a rubbish long day at work.
That's a really fucking stupid reason to play an instrument! And it will cancel out #1 fairly quickly.


You WILL blow your wrists and hands apart. It's not a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when".
The fact you ask for advice and refuse to heed it is pure folly. There are untold amounts of instructional videos and DVD's that are screaming at you "DO NOT DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!"

But you don't want to listen. So you'll learn the really, really, hard way about it.
I can post some pictures of students who have had to have hand surgeries from playing, literally, exactly why and how you describe.

Find a sport, work out or whatever. Find a constructive way to release your frustrations. Drums ARE a great physical release, but without knowing how to play them properly, they are going to hurt you.

By the way, reason #1 you give for playing drums will quickly go away if you continue with reason #2.

Your lack of technique will force you into a permanent plateau that you will never leave because you will continue to ingrain bad habits instead of cultivating good habits.


I want you to play drums. To be a better drummer. Better musician. And be able to play music for the rest of your life. To enjoy playing music as long as you can.

However the way you describe playing drums will cut all of that very very short. It's a ticking time bomb. Nobody can say if you will develop a serious issue tomorrow or next year or never.
But enough people have destroyed their wrists over even very short amounts of time from playing drums how you describe, that it's simply not worth the risk.

Or maybe it is to you? It's your life and your hands.

Google "Carpel Tunnel Syndrome" to find out more.
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Old 10-13-2012, 04:21 PM   #20
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Hmm. Cost of a few drum lessons...cost of wrist surgery and PT for the rest of your life...
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Old 10-13-2012, 07:00 PM   #21
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That's one of the reasons drummers and drums are often looked down on by other musicians. When you are pounding on something to take out your anger, you are no longer expressing yourself in a musical way... You're just destroying something.
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